Anthony Watson has been in the United States for more than 20 years now, but the images and impact of his war-torn homeland are still top of mind.
“Families torn apart, no food to eat. Having to drink, shower and wash clothes in the same lagoon where we’d seen the bodies of people we knew floating,” Watson, an engineering technician out of the Trombly Service Center, said of his life in Liberia.
Keeping in mind his struggles, when he reached the U.S., Watson promised to do whatever he could to help the people of his homeland.
“I never thought I’d be an engineer. I never thought the opportunity was there for me because of where I grew up,” Watson said.
“My goal is to do everything I can for the kids back home who have been devastated by the war and Ebola, to put clothes on their back and shoes on their feet. It’s from the kindness in people’s hearts, that we’re able to do just that.”
In 2005, Watson placed a barrel at the service center where he worked, with a note asking his DTE colleagues to drop donations – clothes, shoes, non-perishable food, toys. Later that year he travelled to Monrovia, Liberia to deliver the donations to families, clinics and hospitals across three villages still impacted by the war.
Vowing to do even more, Watson started Loving Arms for Liberia, a non-profit aimed at improving the lives of people in the country by providing necessities. With help from his DTE family, he placed more barrels and collected more goods that he’d ship to the villages every year.
Now, he’s ready to return to his native country, this time with trailers full of donations – books, food, toys and computers. Even bikes to help get kids to school. Items that can’t be used like winter coats (Winters in Liberia are hot and humid) are donated to local Detroit agencies. He and his family will travel to Liberia in August.
“I’ve been through what the people in Liberia are going through – nowhere to live, no clothes on your back, little food to eat, walking miles and miles to get to school,” Watson said. “It’s my responsibility to do something about. I’m so thankful that my colleagues and the community want to help too.”